Centre puts the ball in states court for factories act amendment

  • With labour law reforms back on the Centre’s agenda, fresh discussions begin with trade unions to push through a long-pending overhaul of the Factories Act of 1948.
  • However, the Labour Ministry has tweaked its draft amendments to put the ball on contentious issues in the domain of State governments.
  • Instead of increasing the threshold limit set for the number of workers in an industrial unit to be statutorily covered by the factories law.
  • Centre is now proposing an enabling provision that lets State governments decide the threshold over which a unit will be considered a factory for the purpose of the law.
  • Earlier, the Centre had proposed that the Factories Law be applicable to all factories that employ at least 40 workers – a move that was strongly opposed by the central trade unions.
  • The present Factories Act 1948 applies to establishments with 10 or more workers, if the premise is using power and to establishments with 20 or more workers, without electricity connection.
  • Factories with less than 40 workers were to be covered under a new law for small factories. However, the fate of the proposed Small Factories Bill, 2015 is unclear as the Labour Ministry note has no mention about the proposed law.